Losing Teams In Bowls? NCAA Confirms Prospect

With 35 bowl games scheduled for college football this season, Brent Schrotenboer of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reports today that the NCAA has confirmed it has been discussing how to handle the prospect of being forced to place losing teams in postseason bowls in order to maintain the staging of such games.

Bluebonnet Bowl program

Schrotenboer reports the NCAA has promised a “contingency plan” in the past if there aren’t enough teams with winning or .500 records to fill out the bowl game roster. That plan has yet to be presented to the public.

The decision will be made by the NCAA’s football postseason licensing subcommittee, chaired by Nick Carparelli, associate commissioner of the Big East Conference. Carparelli said Tuesday discussions are “ongoing” and no timetable has been set to form a contingency plan if fewer than 70 teams have 6-6 records or better.

“It’s early, but sure there’s concern, absolutely,” said Bruce Binkowski, executive director of San Diego’s two bowl games.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing if you have a losing record and you’re going to a bowl,” said San Diego State Athletic Director Jim Sterk, who previously served on the NCAA bowl subcommittee. “I don’t think that’s good for college football.”

So what’s the odds that there won’t be enough bowl-eligible teams? Schrotenboer does the math and finds it to be a distinct possibility.

There are fewer chances for teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to get “easy” wins. FBS teams each year schedule teams from the slower, smaller Football Championship Subdivision in order to increase their chances of getting the minimum six victories for a bowl berth. Last year, FBS teams were 89-5 in such games. By season’s end, there were 71 bowl-eligible teams for 68 bowl berths.

This year, FBS teams are 63-6 against the FCS, according to the NCAA, with 21 more such games left on the schedule. That means, at most, FBS teams will have 84 “easy” wins, down from 89 last year, when there were just enough teams eligible to fill the 34 bowls.

In other words, get ready for 5-7 teams in bowl games:

Only eight of 120 FBS teams have started 0-3 and made their bowl chances already appear dim. But hope might not be lost for them if they only need 5-7 records this time.

The 35 bowls were told their games would be filled regardless of whether there were enough eligible teams. If there weren’t enough eligible teams, Binkowski’s guess is that strength of schedule or proximity would factor into which 5-7 teams could be selected.

If there aren’t enough bowl-eligible teams for the postseason games scheduled this season, I’m not sure what there is for the NCAA to announce other than it authorized too many bowl games - and that losing teams will indeed be eligible for the postseason if there aren’t enough qualifying squads.

Following that revelation there’ll be the obligatory media uproar, but is there really a discernible difference between a 5-7 and 6-6 team playing in a minor bowl? The bowls (and postseason for that matter) have become so meaningless thanks to the BCS that anything beyond the championship game has already been rendered irrelevant.